Programmes for researcher development should be formulated that not only satisfy requirements for the sector (including RCUK, QAA, Athena SWAN and other equality charters and the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers), but go beyond them to contribute to the national and international agenda for research development and training. By adopting a world-leading approach to researcher development, the University should attract and retain the very best postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers.
Wherever possible postgraduate researcher development should employ collaborative delivery across divisions, departments and faculties. However, the scope of training ought not to be restricted, and working with partners in the public sector and industry is encouraged, building on existing links established through knowledge exchange programmes and public engagement in research activities, resulting in diverse opportunities for research students.
Training programmes can, and should, cross disciplinary boundaries, providing researcher training which is generic with widespread applicability. This permits economies of scale allowing large initiatives to be provided and offers opportunities for interdisciplinary training that enhances researchers’ understanding of how their work fits into the wider academic and public context.
The University’s researcher development training should provide opportunities for peer learning and support from other DPhil students as well as recent post-doctoral researchers. This will enable the passing on of knowledge of the local research culture and provide support and guidance for students. Encouraging such support through peer learning is important given the challenges presented to students and postdoctoral researchers during their research.
The delivery of core methods training should be appropriate to the stage of the DPhil, and tailored to the academic discipline. For example, at the start of their programme, all students will benefit from training in planning and managing their DPhil as a project, how to work with integrity in their discipline, and how to carry out a literature review; other training may be more discipline specific such as laboratory safety, and research ethics. Later in their studies, a focus on making presentations, writing papers and time management may be more appropriate.
It is expected that the Postgraduate Research Student Development Strategy will foster student-led initiatives; for example, providing opportunities for DPhil students to plan and organise training days or workshops.
Experiential learning, providing hands on training opportunities or linking more traditional workshops into further experiential steps such as internships, will allow students to form networks beyond the scope of the University. These will offer mentoring and networking opportunities and this approach will also reinforce the connection between a student’s project and their personal and professional development.
Flexible training pathways, that may be discipline specific, should be designed to provide students with a coherent set of skills, opening avenues for career and research collaborations and reinforcing their ability to complete research projects and other academic tasks. This will augment both their academic and wider professional credentials.
The impact and benefit of the Postgraduate Research Student Development Strategy should be monitored both at divisional and University levels to ensure that the training delivers what is needed and maintains high standards of provision. This monitoring could take the form of metrics and other measures including stakeholder expectations, uniformity of evaluation practice across different training pathways and longitudinal comparisons and impacts, making use of technology as appropriate.